- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 5, 2009

RICHMOND | Virginia’s candidates for governor this year spent a combined $40.4 million, according to reports filed Thursday with the State Board of Election, but it wasn’t a record.

Republican Robert F. McDonnell, the landslide winner of last month’s election, spent nearly $23.4 million, or about $6.4 million more than the $17 million spent by Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds.

The fundraising totals submitted by the two campaigns do not reflect the more than $3 million spent this year by Republican and Democratic political action committees. Both acted independently of the campaigns, and both were funded by Washington-based national party organizations.

The most expensive showdown for governor was in 2005, when Republican Jerry W. Kilgore and the winner, Democrat Tim Kaine, jointly spent $45.2 million. That total included a Republican who ran as an independent, former state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr.

Mr. McDonnell held a clear fundraising advantage throughout a campaign that served as an early voter verdict on President Obama and an allied Democratic Congress. In 2008, Mr. Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to carry Virginia in a presidential race. Virginians in 2008 also put both U.S. Senate seats in Democrats’ hands for the first time since 1970, and gave them six of the state’s 11 U.S. House seats, a net gain of three seats.

But last month, Mr. McDonnell took nearly 59 percent of the vote to lead a Republican rout that claimed all three statewide elected offices for the GOP and saw the party expand its House of Delegates majority by six seats.

As Mr. Deeds’ candidacy nose-dived in the final two weeks of the campaign, Mr. McDonnell’s fundraising edge became even more conspicuous, according to data compiled and analyzed by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit and nonpartisan tracker of money in state politics.

From Oct. 22 through Nov. 26, the period covered by Thursday’s reports, Mr. McDonnell took in $2.5 million, more than 2 1/2 times what Mr. Deeds raised. Mr. McDonnell used that advantage to outspend Mr. Deeds in the final two weeks by at least a 2-to-1 ratio.

Both candidates drew the bulk of their financing from within Virginia. Forty percent of Mr. Deeds’ itemized contributions came from outside Virginia compared with 25 percent for Mr. McDonnell.

Grouped according to industry or economic sector, political organizations were the top overall donors to both candidates. Republican political committees gave Mr. McDonnell about $7.5 million, while Democratic committees gave Mr. Deeds about $5.8 million.

For Mr. McDonnell, real estate and construction interests were his second-largest donor group, contributing $3 million. Business and retailing groups ranked third at $2.7 million for Mr. McDonnell, and the finance and insurance industry gave him $2.2 million.

For Mr. Deeds, organized labor was his second-largest donor group at $2.3 million. The legal profession gave him about $1.5 million, and Mr. Deeds received $1.3 million from real estate and construction interests.

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